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February 23

A Master Showman named Dave “Stringbean” Akeman

Remember David Akeman, David who? Well, if you are not familiar with David Akeman then your heart might remember Stringbean.

On the hit television show Hee Haw, Stringbean became known to millions of people. If you were a regular on the show, you were pretty much guaranteed a laugh with whatever song he wished to play.  He was a world-class banjo picker with a splendid sense of good, clean country humor.

Editor’s Note: After this article, check out Two Young Cowboys Amuse Guests with Stunning Dance Number.

The early beginnings of Akeman’s music career were when he entered a talent contest. Judged by singer-guitarist-musical saw player Asa Martin, he won the contest. Eventually, he landed a spot and became a member of Martin’s band. During an early appearance, Martin forgot Akeman’s name and introduced him as “String Bean” because of his tall, thin built. From then on, Akeman used the moniker.

Stringbean’s Career

In the beginning, Stringbean was simply a musician. But one night, when a comedy musician failed to show up, they asked him to do the part. That kicked off Akeman’s career in comedy and music.

Apart from that, Stringbean was also a regular in Porter Wagoner Show. In the entirety of the said show, he kept Porter laughing. Porter even adopted his signature hand gesture. As two were good friends, Porter would tell about their great adventures together—in travels and it shows. In those travels, Porter had to do the driving because Stringbean did not have a driver’s license and never drove. Even when at home, his wife Estelle, did all his driving for him.

An entertainer as he is, Stringbean adopted a stage costume that complemented his height. He wore a shirt with an exceptionally long waist and tail, tucked into a pair of short blue jeans belted around his knees. This costume made him look like a very tall man with very short legs.

Here’s one of Stringbean’s act,  performing on the Wilburn Brothers Show.

In addition to his appearances on TV, Stringbean played with the legendary Bill Monroe band at some point in his career. He was a regular at the Grand Ole Opry for years. At the Opry, he often shared the stage with his friend and Hee Haw cast mate Grandpa Jones.

On November 10, 1973, instead of making people laugh, he made them cry. His life ended tragically when burglars murdered him and his wife.


Tags

Davis Akeman, fishin' song, porter wagoner, porter wagoner show, Stringbean


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